Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Story With No Legs

Sarah Palin, speaking to a Canadian audience, talked about the irony of how her family chose a Canadian hospital when confronted with a health-care emergency. (Gov. Palin has spoken out against Democratic health-care plans, which critics and even some supporters claim will make the U.S. system resemble Canada's.)

As a six-year-old child she obviously had no input to her parents' decision, and equally obviously a lot of things have changed since the 1960's. The important question is, what would Gov. Palin do today?

In a medical emergency most people place their top priority on speed, with quality and cost being secondary considerations. If the nearest hospital is Canadian, every American parent I know would head there without hesitation. Ideology goes out the window when our kids are involved.

A word about the policy issue: if the Canadian system produces decent health care and short waiting periods at lower cost than ours, we shouldn't close our eyes to adopting its elements.

At this point we should again dust off the project triangle.

Only two of the three objectives are simultaneously possible.

The very best organizations try to hit the mark with all three. With government programs we're lucky to get two. (In some cases, e.g. the DMV and post office, Americans would take one.) One of the best government organizations, the U.S. military, is quick to respond and is extremely competent, but controlling cost has defied half a century of effort.

A government that rarely achieves two points of the good-fast-cheap triangle is asking us to believe that for the first time it can get to all three. IMHO, Governor Palin, Tea Partiers, and for that matter the majority of Americans are quite justified in their skepticism. © 2010 Stephen Yuen

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